Recently, Medicare Advantage enrollment has taken off. In 2020, more than one-third of Medicare beneficiaries were enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan. This number continues to grow about nine percent each year. More and more people are finding a Medicare Advantage plan to be the best option for their healthcare coverage. There are a few reasons why Medicare Advantage plans have become increasingly popular over the past decade. In general, you can receive more benefits with a Medicare Advantage plan and the costs are likely not as high as you would expect. Today we are breaking down the costs and added features that come with a Medicare Advantage plan.
Medicare Advantage Benefits
Medicare Advantage plans provide the same coverage as Original Medicare (Part A and Part B), but may also come with some added benefits, like vision, dental and hearing coverage. Medicare Advantage plans may also include things like Part D prescription drug coverage or a SilverSneakers fitness subscription. There are some newer features, like telehealth services, that may also be covered by your Medicare Advantage plan. All these added perks are not offered by Original Medicare. Because Medicare Advantage plans are managed by private insurance companies, they provide a specific network of doctors and care providers that you must use. If you go outside of the network, you may have to pay more out-of-pocket expenses.
A lot of seniors have realized how important some of these features are to them, so switching to a Medicare Advantage plan has allowed them to save money on their healthcare. If any of these benefits sound attractive, a Medicare Advantage plan may be perfect for you.
Medicare Advantage Costs
When it comes to Medicare costs, there are lots of different things to consider. There are premiums, out-of-pocket expenses, copayments and deductibles. It is important to understand what each of these costs covers and about how much they will be. Of course, costs vary from plan to plan depending on the amount of coverage provided by the plan. Be sure to look into the prices and coverage of different plans in your area to ensure you get what you need.
The added features are not the only thing that make a Medicare Advantage plan attractive for beneficiaries. There are often very low monthly premiums for Medicare Advantage plans. In fact, about two-thirds of Medicare Advantage beneficiaries pay absolutely no premium. $0 premiums are especially common among Medicare Advantage plans that provide Part D prescription drug coverage, which is about 90% of all Medicare Advantage plans.
It is important to note that while not all Medicare Advantage plans have $0 premiums, a lot of them still have relatively low premiums. In 2018, the average monthly premium was $30 for a Medicare Advantage plan. Of course, some plans have premiums on the higher end at around $100 per month. Premiums depend on how much coverage your plan provides. With Medicare, you get what you pay for. Plans with extensive dental or vision coverage will likely cost more. A plan with a $0 premium may provide less coverage than a more expensive plan. Depending on your healthcare needs, you may choose to opt for a plan with a higher premium that will provide the coverage you need. It’s important to fully understand benefits and coverage before moving forward with a plan.
Medicare Advantage Out-of-Pocket Expenses
It is also important to consider out-of-pocket expenses for your Medicare Advantage plan. Each plan sets a limit for the out-of-pocket expenses that you will cover before the plan covers the rest. In 2020, the average out-of-pocket limit for in-network services was $4,925 and $8,825 for both in-network and out-of-network services.
Medicare Advantage Copayments and Deductibles
Copayments and deductibles may also be some costs to consider with a Medicare Advantage plan. A copayment can be a set dollar amount or a percentage to receive a certain medical service. A deductible is the amount you pay upfront when you enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan. Copayments and deductibles really vary from plan to plan. Some deductibles are $0, while others are $1,000. Copayments are set by each plan and their network of doctors and service providers to which you have access. Be sure to look into the exact cost of a specific Medicare Advantage plan before enrolling.
In recent years, the average cost of a Medicare Advantage plan has gone down. From 2018 to 2019, the average monthly premium went down by four dollars. This small decrease adds up over twelve months. The prices have continued to decrease since 2015, making Medicare Advantage plans more attractive for Medicare beneficiaries.
The upward trend of Medicare Advantage enrollment can be attributed to extended coverage combined with relatively low premiums. These two factors have made Medicare Advantage plans extremely attractive in recent years. It is important to remember that each Medicare Advantage plan is different, but they all provide more coverage than a traditional Medicare plan. The costs will likely vary from plan to plan, so it is important to consider all your Medicare Advantage options before enrolling. Be sure to check out different Medicare Advantage plans in your area to compare costs and coverage.